Mark Martin visits Lipton Tea plant

Published 7:59 am Friday, May 1, 2009

SUFFOLK—Veteran NASCAR driver Mark Martin stopped by Lipton Tea’s Field Day Tea on Tuesday to greet fans and sign autographs.

Martin’s visit was just one way of thanking all of the employees (approximately 350) for their support and sponsorship of the Lipton Tea 250 and, more especially, for sponsoring the car he will drive Friday night at Richmond International Raceway in the Nationwide Series event.

Martin, a Batesville, Ark. resident, is the all-time leader in victories in the Nationwide Series coupled with 36 victories in the Sprint Cup Series. Considered one of the elder racers — he is one of three active drivers older than 50 — Martin brings respect to the NASCAR racing series with 20 full-time seasons in Sprint Cup and four of those as runner-up to the championship (1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002 ).

Martin signed under the Hendricks organization for a full-time ride in 2009 and a part-time ride in 2010, joining the ranks of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon as teammates. April 18 ended a career high of 97 winless races as he pulled off a win at the Phoenix Subway Fresh Fit 500. When asked about his Lipton sponsorship, Martin said “This is going to be a really exciting weekend for everyone here, and with Lipton Tea being a large part of the local economy and as many employees that would be at the race, it is going to be a great weekend.”

When asked about the changeover from Rousch Racing to Hendricks Motorsports and how he would approach the championship title, Martin’s reply was a very definite: “I am just happy to be having fun driving a fast race car every week and doing what I love.”

Ted Narozny, plant manager at Lipton Tea, explained that Lipton has had several years of association with NASCAR in sponsoring various drivers over the years, but stepped up their involvement last year to gain more exposure to a larger market by sponsoring the Nationwide Series race at RIR as well as sponsoring a driver (Kasey Kahne in 2008 and Martin in 2009).

With a smile, Narozny explained that Lipton has been pleased with the results of this association with NASCAR and the fans.

All of the Lipton employees were offered the opportunity to attend the race tonight and were provided two tickets each, as well as given shirts and hats. Additionally, several employees will be able to participate as grand marshalls, give the command to drivers to start their engines and also start the race from the flag stand. Lipton Tea also supports several charities, including making a donation to Kyle Petty’s Victory Junction Gang Camp and this year donating racing products to St. Jude Hospital’s benefit auction.

The St. Jude event is May 9 at the Living Museum in Newport News.